(L to R: Ethan 5, Chloe 7, Sophia 9, Jonathan 2, Seth 10, Cheyenne 19, Amelia 1, Celeste 16, and Genevieve 4)
I originally published this years ago. But since I get asked about our story often, I thought it would be fun to update it and republish. Please keep in mind that this is our story and we know that God does not lead all families to the same conviction. Here is our story....
Our Journey to Many Children
I am no stranger to large families. My mother is the sixth of fourteen children, my dad is the oldest of five, and I am the second of four children. Even in the generations before, there were many children in our family line. I grew up surrounded by lots of family and LOVED the chaos of family gatherings and reunions. My husband, however, is an only child, and so is his mother. You'd think that I was already signed up to have many children and that my husband would lean toward just one or two. But, that wasn't the case....
When Greg and I were engaged, I don't think we necessarily talked about a specific number of children. Despite loving my large extended family, I had always said that I didn't want children. Thankfully, just loving Greg changed that, but I probably didn't think we'd have more than two. My husband, however, was in the "I want 20" camp right from the start. I would just laugh and think "yeah right"!
Three months after we were married, we found out that we were expecting our first child. We were thrilled. But when I began experiencing death-like morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum), I wasn't so sure I would ever do this again! I was so sick for seven months. Continuous vomiting, dehydration, etc. We lived in England at the time, so we had no family to help out. After this, I knew I would not be in a hurry to do it again. Our daughter was born and we were very happy first-time parents.
Yet, the memories of how sick I was haunted me. About two years later, I began feeling suspiciously queasy and took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Although I welcomed the "idea" of another baby, I was terrified of going through such agony again. And how would I do it now with a toddler? And to make matters worse, we were moving back to the states from England in just a few months. How would I handle a major move, plane rides, a toddler, all while feeling terrible?
The morning sickness intensified and I just took it one day at a time. Our little two year old spent most of her days watching children's videos and I cringed each time she said she was hungry. It was difficult to get up and prepare food. Greg was working 24 hour shifts, so when he was at work, he was gone all day and night! It was tough.
It came time to move. I left England a month before Greg so that I could spend more time with my family before heading to our next base. I was four months pregnant, still sick, and was now going to travel back to the states with our 2 year old daughter, by myself. Sixteen hours and three plane changes later, I made it home. Barely! That night, my dad offered to go get me something to eat and food actually sounded good. The next morning, I woke up and felt great! God was good and faithful and allowed morning sickness to last only four months instead of seven! Our second daughter was born and we were the honored parents of two little girls. I was content.
I think I immediately felt like two was enough for us, although I knew my husband wanted more. He never pressured or asked, but I knew his heart welcomed more children. As time went on and the girls got bigger, I began to enjoy the independence and the freedoms of having children out of baby stage. I also began planning my future which included finishing school and possibly a career in the future. I had all kinds of ambitions, goals, and aspirations. And now that the girls were getting older, I could finally work toward these goals.
When our second daughter was three, I did become pregnant. We were excited, though again, I was fearful. But around nine weeks, I miscarried. We were devastated! And though I learned just how fragile life was, I was also in no hurry to get pregnant again.
Just a few months later, we were moving again. Greg was getting out of the Air Force and we were moving back home to CA. As soon as we were settled, I enrolled in school. Oddly enough, it was during this period of life that I began to question all of my reasons for only wanting two children. This was strange to me! I loved school, I loved the girls being older, and I was set on being able to afford to send these girls to college. How would we afford more children? And, do I want to go through morning sickness again?
Nonetheless, my heart was being pulled in another direction. I questioned why I only wanted to have two children when I had a wonderful husband who wanted more? Was God not faithful in getting me through morning sickness? Will He not provide for more children? Is pursuing a career what I really want to do? And is it God's plan for all of our children to even attend college? All these questions ate at my core until finally it was clear! My heart had been opened to more children!
We were living in CA at the time and getting ready to move back to Texas for a new job. We agreed that as soon as we got back to Texas we would try for another baby. Upon a friend's recommendation of a fertility book, we began charting and trying. ;-) To our amazement, two months later we were pregnant with our third child.
Yep, sick again. This time for 20 weeks. I survived and we welcomed our third child, our first son, six years after our second daughter! Seven months later, to our SHOCK, we were pregnant again! Sick again, still nursing baby #3, survived again and welcomed our fourth child, another girl.
Okay, at this point, I'm not sure what our "plan" was now. We still hadn't come to the point of welcoming "any and all" children, but we weren't saying we were done either. So we continued to chart. I would chart until I felt "ready" to be pregnant again. By now, I knew that God would get me through morning sickness, we knew He would continue to provide, and we were thankful for our four children.
Our fourth child was about 13 months old when we "put the charts away". Soon after, we were pregnant again. Sick again and now living in a tiny rental home. Five kids, three very small bedrooms, no problem. Our fifth, another girl, was born and we were thrilled!
God continued to do a work in both of us concerning our view of children and what scripture says about them. Over and over, scripture calls children a blessing, a heritage (Psalm 127: 3-5)! Although I think most people would have agreed that our quiver was certainly full and probably overflowing, we weren't content with that. Don't get me wrong, we were content with our five children, just not content with deciding five was "it".
During this time, I was at a home school meeting, when a friend shared with us her journey to having nine children. As a matter of fact, it looked and sounded a lot like ours. She shared of how Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed fervently for a child. She went on to say that she realized there were only examples of women in the Bible praying for children! There is not one example that God gives us of a woman (or man) praying not to have children. Yet, we see in the Bible that there were many varied sizes of families! And being that we know modern forms of birth control did not exist, we can rest assure that God was in control of family sizes! Additionally, I have several friends who have always trusted God with their family size, yet only have 1, 2, or 3 children.
This, in conjunction with God's Word referring to children as blessings, arrows, and a heritage, was huge for me. God used my sweet friend's own story to continue writing ours! Thankfully, my husband shared the same conviction and we went on to have two more children. No charting, no worrying, just freedom.
You see, for us it really is freedom. Since we welcome any child God is willing to entrust us with, there are no worries about getting pregnant. We just enjoy our love for one another and welcome "the fruits of our passion", as my husband so sweetly puts it! ;-) And this is coming from a woman who begins ovulating again 2-6 month after each baby, despite nursing around the clock. Only God could make me this crazy! (I mean this in a good way!) : )
Since then, we've had babies six, seven, eight, and nine, with morning sickness lasting from four to six months. We've had some scares along the way, and moments of questioning our view. We're human and raising nine children is hard sometimes. But once we step back and remember where God has brought us, our spirit is renewed and we're reminded of His faithfulness.
If you know me, you know that I am NO supermom. I struggle daily just like every other mom does. I have days when I want to string these little blessings up by their toes or run away to a tropical island. But this I know....God is faithful, God has provided for our every need and then some, God has helped me not to fear morning sickness....too much, and God has freed me from the worldview ideals I held all those years ago. There's nothing I'd rather be doing than raising and growing our heritage.
I understand that this is not every one's conviction or desire. This is simply our story, which we hope will encourage anyone who may be on the fence in this area. If you've adopted a worldview of limiting children for reasons contrary to Scripture, I challenge you (and your spouse) to pray about it and ask God what He would have you do in this area of your life, trusting He will lead you.